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What’s your handicap?

21 Sep

This isn’t a blog about golf – I promise. So, non-golfers, please keep reading.

I was at a birthday party chatting with the teenage daughter of a colleague. We were having a lively discussion about golf and she was telling me that she had joined a league and was really enjoying it.

I was a little jealous because I know in my heart that doing the same would be one great way to improve my ailing handicap. OK – the truth is, I don’t even have one.

Wheelchair and Golf ClubsSo, I asked her. What is your handicap?

And she looked me straight in the eye and said “AUTISM.”

You can imagine that I was taken aback and felt pretty bad that this was her reply. We recovered (after I apologized and she wondered why I did??) and continued to chat away about her golf game.

But it got me to thinking on my drive home that whenever we engage with someone else, we each start from an entirely different place based on our experiences or what we hold important to us.

I have seen this so many times at the legislature when policymakers and elected officials have public discussions about topics important to our state.

For example, sometimes we talk about social services. There can be a stark difference between approaches – some legislators feel that we should figure out ways to take care of everyone and others are of the opinion that everyone should pick themselves up by their own boot straps.

It’s an interesting dichotomy because I have heard both say “Why can’t we just do the right thing?” which has a broad an interpretation as the word “handicap.”

So, the real question is how to bridge that gap and find ways to communicate when our starting point is so distant?

Jeanette

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